How I went from boycotting to buy-cotting
by Ryan Fisher
My name is Ryan Fisher and my name is Jake Reynolds. Yes, I have two identities that, over time, are melding into one. Ryan Fisher is the name on my birth certificate; Jake Reynolds is the name of the character I play on a web series called The Spinoffs, as well as on my own YouTube channel Openly Jake ( youtube.com/openlyme), in which I tackle a lot of gay issues (and sometimes they tackle me right back).
As an actor, sometimes a role gets so profoundly under your skin that you can't tell where it starts and you end. That's what's happened with me and Jake. I was never very political. Oh, I always believed in gay rights, but I, Ryan, had a much more carefree attitude – "haters gonna hate," etc. – whereas Jake called everyone out on anything remotely anti-gay. But the one thing about Jake (and me): he's not mean; he's sarcastic; he's not in your face, he's like a gnat flying around your face; he's not polemic; he's ironic. Over time, Jake has evolved into a comic commentator on gay rights. One critic called Jake "the gay Jon Stewart," the biggest compliment he could have been paid. Jake tackles issues differently than other gay vloggers – he uses anger disguised as ignorance; outrage disguised as innocence, and fury disguised as funny.
Which brings me to buy-cotting and this new concept which I'd like to think I invented (well, Jake and I did). But like many positive movements, it had its roots in something negative: I had been doing some fun gay-themed vlogs, like on what I was looking for in a boyfriend (still looking, by the way). And then something really frightening happened in California: a lawyer was trying to get a proposition on the ballot that would allow California citizens to shoot and kill anyone who's gay (yes, you read that right). Then "Indiana" happened – where discrimination against gays and lesbians for "religious reasons" became legal, and people – even politicians – decided to boycott Indiana, which was the first mention of the B-word: Boycott. [Indiana has since revised the law in question.] Then prejudice against gays took a decidedly different turn when high-end Italian fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana did an interview where they said that gays should not be allowed to have children. What made that one particularly galling is that they are gay (they even used to be a couple)! In the D&G backlash, Elton John had started a campaign urging people to boycott D&G products. That word again. Next up was a fancy reception for right-wing, maliciously anti-gay Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, given by two real estate developers – who happened to be gay and who owned hotels and resorts catering to gay clientele. The gay community went nuts, and again the call to boycott was raised – and this time it was louder than ever. Okay, so now, between these guys and Dolce & Gabbana, we were boycotting Our Own – gays vs. gays, or as I called it, Boy-on-Boycotting. I mean, if you can't trust gays to be pro-gay, who can you trust? As far as I was concerned, no one is safe from being boycotted – if you're an anti-gay, you're out ... even if you're openly out.
But then I had a crisis of conscience – wasn't I just as bad as the haters, discriminating against gay people just because I don't like their politics? Boycotting my fellow gays means a lot in a country where the dollar talks, even my gay dollars.
I wanted to find a way to turn my boycotting into something positive. And so buy-cotting was born: buying from (and thereby rewarding) companies that support gay rights. A righteous way to spend all the money I saved on boycotting anti-gay companies.
I did some research and the list of gay-friendly companies is much longer than I realized. Here is a rundown of some prominent companies and brands that have addressed LGBT issues – ranging from political and personal actions by high-profile CEOs to product advertising to workplace policies: Tiffany & Co., Apple, Amazon, Starbucks, Facebook, Tesla, Yelp, Google, Nike, Oreos (yes, I can now eat my favorite cookie guilt-free). And there are hundreds more.
So here's where I've landed: Go on and boycott the haters – but make sure we reward the good guys and support the supporters. And the way I figure it, if people don't like what we – me and Jake – have to say in our videos – well, they can just boycott us!
Ryan Fisher lives in Los Angeles. To see Jake's video on "Boy-on-Boycotting," visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIsz0vkgY8o; for "Proposition Jake," visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4J_h7EzHyE; for "Dolce & Gabbana," visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-OU9Uzw1g0; for "United Hates of America," visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQVs2RO5Zk.